You need more sales. So, like many owners, you take aggressive steps to solve the problem: You buy a new drill or other piece of equipment for a quarter million bucks. It looks great, it doesn’t need to be managed, it takes no further work on your behalf, and you get to say, “Look at the money I've invested in my company.”
Unfortunately, a $200,000 drill is not a sales lead magnet. But an updated website that costs around $198,000 less can be.
Here is a checklist for a lead generating website:
Your Website Looks Professional
Gone are the days when updating a website every couple of years was enough. In today’s hyper-competitive environment, a sharp, professional looking website is a must. Having a web page that looks like it was done on the cheap by someone who isn’t very good will not match closely with a prospective customer’s idea of the type of company he or she would like to work with.
Your Website is Full of Interesting and Educational Content
These days buyers research prospective vendors before they ever speak to one. In a research study, IDG found that business-to-business buyers were downloading five pieces of content before they initiated contact with anyone. And where would you look first if you were looking for information that would help you do your job better? That’s right, they look at prospective vendors websites. And if you have nothing that can help them, you have lots of competitors who do and want to.
You Regularly Replenish Material
If a prospective buyer comes by your website and likes what he or she sees, it is probably a good idea to keep a stream of new material coming to give them a reason to come back. And while this is time consuming, it's not hard to do. Your prospective customer has a problem and you have years of experience solving similar problems. There are a hundred things you could write about that a prospective customer would find valuable.
Your Website Has No Abandoned Babies
Good ideas that got abandoned are what I call “abandoned babies.” You see this on websites in company blogs, but even more so in company “news” sections. You see a company that did all kinds of stuff and went to a whole mess of trade shows in 2011, then went to about half that many in 2012, and just a couple in the Spring of 2013, and since then, nothing. A reader is left to assume from amongst a bunch of horrible scenarios: The company pays lousy attention to detail, management changes often and so do the company’s priorities, they are losing money and cutting back. These all sound dramatic, but what positive reason can you think of for abandoning something you started?
Your Website has Valuable Content to Give Away
This means content that a prospective customer could really use. Things like “In working with 800 companies over the past 25 years, here are the 20 most harmful design mistakes we see our customers make.” Who's not going to want that report?
Your Content is Gated
That report is so valuable that when you “gate” it, that is when you ask for a name and e-mail address in exchange for it, that they give them up readily; it’s that good a trade. I often see reports and e-books that ask for my contact info and I know that someone will call me after the fact, but that’s okay. It’s okay because that info I am downloading is so valuable to me that I am fine with talking to a salesperson following up.
You Plan to Offer More Valuable Content in the Future
Typical take from someone I talk to: “Oh man, that was a lot of work, and you want me to do it again? And again after that?”
And my response: “That hard work led to three new customers. You should be asking how often you can get away with doing it!”
You Have Links to Other Websites
Links to other websites will help your search engine results. Not as dramatic an idea as content, but it all helps.
You Have Links to Your Social Networks
Because social networks feed prospects to your website. Even if you get 2,000 visitors a month to your website organically, why not try and get your 500 Twitter followers and the 5,000 LinkedIn connections your employees have, and all your other social network followers to visit too?
If this sounds like a lot of work, look at it this way: What if your website gave you leads on five prospective customers every month? Of those 60 prospects a year, how many could you turn into customers? The formula here is $2,000 plus elbow grease equals new customers.
Or you could say the heck with new customers this year, and just go buy that drill.